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McGraw, Patriotism Take Centerstage

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Security, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Tim McGraw were largely in evidence Wednesday night in Nashville, as the Country Music Association rolled out its 35th annual awards ceremony, bluegrass-style. McGraw was named entertainer of the year; Toby Keith, male vocalist; Lee Ann Womack, female vocalist; Lonestar, vocal group; and Brooks & Dunn, vocal duo. Other happy faces inside the Grande Ole Opry house included those attached to song of the year “Murder on Music Row” and vocal event of the year winners Brad Paisley, George Jones, Bill Anderson and Buck Owens. Musician of the year went to Dan Huff, while singer-songwriter Sara Evans took the music video award for her hit song “Born to Fly.” Maintaining the patriotic tone of the evening, McGraw, 34, in his acceptance speech not only acknowledged record company executives and his wife, singer Faith Hill, but also shouted out his gratitude to America soldiers fighting the war on terrorism. “God bless you guys,” said McGraw, “taking care of us over in godforsaken land.”